Wattisham Apache kills Taliban leader

An Apache AH64D helicopter from 3 Army Air Corps fires a Hellfire Air to Surface missile on an excercise over the Arizona Desert
An Apache AH64D helicopter from 3 Army Air Corps fires a Hellfire Air to Surface missile on an excercise over the Arizona Desert

A MISSILE strike by a Wattisham Apache crew has killed a senior Taliban commander who was firing on British troops.

The action has been hailed as an example of how the high-tech helicopters support and protect ground forces in Afghanistan.

A Task Force Helmand spokesman said: “A senior insurgent commander was killed after a strike from an Apache attack helicopter as soldiers from D Company 5th Battalion the Rifles and their partners from the Afghan National Security Forces conducted operations in the Nahr-e Saraj district.”

The 40 troops were two hours into Operation Cobra Hunt, to seek intelligence on Taliban forces, when they were fired on by insurgents, who were spotted by what the Army called ‘intelligence assets’.

One of the fighters was tracked by the Apache from 653 Squadron, Three Regiment Army Air Corps, and when he opened fire on the patrol again the crew was cleared to fire a Hellfire missile at his position. It was later discovered the insurgent killed was a senior commander in the area.

Major Chris Bisset, the officer commanding the UK Apache Squadron, said: “This is a good example of why the Apache attack helicopter is deployed to support troops on the ground in Afghanistan.“

Captain Ben Worley, D Company’s fire support commander, who co-ordinated with the Apache, said: “An insurgent of this calibre is hard to find and this has been a decisive blow to the insurgency here. It was a great start to the operation and will set the conditions for the future of D Company in the area.”

Major Matt Baker, commanding D Company, said: “We clearly took them by surprise because after we hit them with the Apache they just didn’t want to know anymore.”